The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make it easier for the smallest farmers to break even. If it becomes law it would allow residents to sell some home-made baked-goods, preserves, and cheese at home or at farmers’ markets.
When the homemade foods bill came out of a House committee, it had unanimous support.
It sits in a political sweet spot: both Democrats who want to support local foods and Republicans who want smaller government like the idea of deregulating small farmers.
It lets people sell less than $10,000 a year in home-made food and produce less than twenty pounds a day of hard cheese, without a license.
The bill was modified before being sent to the house floor to say unlicensed cheeses must be labeled as such, and they must be aged 60-days before selling. These rules were
Barnstead Republican Guy Comtois, the bill’s sponsor, says it’s aimed at giving new farmers a running start before they have to pay for a license.
“It’s tough to start off at 100 miles an hour,” Comtois says, “so it does not do away with licensing, it just gives somebody that’s coming out of the gate the chance to find out is this going to be doable or am I just gonna stay with the 20 gallons a day.”
Kathy and Joel Wotton from Ossipee are one family who have been watching the bill’s progress closely. They keep a small homestead, where they produce most of their own food: vegetables, baked goods, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and cows. They sell un-pasteurized milk from their two cows, who put out a little less than ten gallons a day.
It’s already legal to sell less than 20 gallons a day of raw milk in New Hampshire; it isn’t legal is to turn that milk into cheese, which the Wottons found out last summer.